By Randi Bjornstad

As they have for the past decade or so, the Eugene Caldera Songwriters group will hold its annual benefit concert raise money for the Egan Warming Centers, which provide overnight shelter for homeless people when the temperature dips below 30 degrees F.

This year’s two-hour concert will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at First Christian Church at 1166 Oak St. in downtown Eugene.

The music centers on original Americana music by local songwriters, reportedly punctuated with haiku and humorous asides. Performers this year include a long list of locals: Chico Schwall, Walker T Ryan, John Shipe, the NeverEver Band, Karl Smiley, Annie Heron, Rudolf Korv, Eli Varedas, Ron Selfridge, Art Wiley, Julia O’Reilly, Ken Zimmerman, Steve Gibson, Paul Neville, Al Rivers, Carl Falsgraf, Axon and Martin Whitney.

Major Tom Egan, namesake of the Egan Warming Centers, in an undated photo

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County administers the warming centers, which depend on public donations as well as support from local governments, the faith community, and other local organizations in order to provide people without shelter with a place to sleep and eat on freezing-cold nights.

The program also welcomes donations of clothing — warm hats, gloves, sweaters, coats, and white socks — as well as blankets, pillows, toiletries, sleeping bags, tarps, and tents, all of which can be delivered to First Christian Church.

Reserved seating at the Egan benefit concert can be had by making a donation to the program online at Donations at the door on concert night also are welcome. Free street parking is available during evening hours, and paid parking also is available in nearby city or private lots.

For those who need disability or wheelchair access, there is a ground-level elevator at the Oak Street entrance to the church.

The Egan Warming Centers program was named in honor of Tom Egan, a military veteran who served two years in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1971-73, then joined the Oregon National Guard in 1978, attaining the rank of major. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1983. His life later began to spiral downward, at least in part because of alcohol addiction, and he eventually became homeless. Egan died of exposure at age 60 on a snowy night, Dec. 16, 2008, outdoors in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood.

He received a funeral with full military honors at the Oregon National Guard Armory in Eugene and is interred in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

Following is a synopsis of Tom Egan’s life, prepared by the Oregon National Guard:

MAJ (Ret.) Thomas L. Egan

The Oregon National Guard community is saddened at the passing of MAJ Tom Egan. He was 60 years of age. MAJ Egan retired from the Oregon National Guard June 18, 1991. He was commissioned as a 2LT through the ROTC program at Yale University in 1971 as an Infantry Officer. From June 1974 to June 1976 Tom served in the Republic of Korea on the DMZ with the 2nd Infantry Division in the US Army. MAJ Egan joined the Oregon National Guard in February 1978. Tom served with 2-162d Infantry as an A Co Commander and on the Battalion and Brigade Staff during his career. Tom Egan received a BA in American History from Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut in 1971. He later attended the University of Oregon receiving a Masters in Journalism in 1983. MAJ Egan’s military awards and decorations include the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Oregon Superior Unit Ribbon, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Oregon Faithful Service Ribbon w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Service ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, the Oregon Service Ribbon and the Connecticut recruiters Badge. MAJ Egan was an avid reader and horseman. He was an accomplished carpenter and meat butcher. He loved classical music and hated country and western. He was a serious military history buff and an avid collector of military equipment. Tom was a serious master of the pun and could whip one up from almost any sentence. He was quite the prankster and loved a good joke. Tom has no living relatives but left many friends in the Oregon National Guard and will be sorely missed. Tom will be interred in the Willamette National Cemetery at a later date. Memorial services will be at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 17 (2009) at the Oregon Army National Guard Armory in Eugene, Or, 2515 MLK Jr. Blvd. The Thomas Egan Memorial Fund has been established at USBank.